Q&A: Dick Power, HFOT’s pro-bono financial planner

Categories: Blog, Helping in the Community, Home, Veteran topic

To set our Veterans up for long-term success as homeowners, Homes For Our Troops provides each Veteran a pro-bono financial planner for three years to assist with household budgeting and financial planning. For 10 years, Financial Planner Dick Power has led the initiative and connected HFOT Veterans with certified financial planners nationwide.

Dick Power Financial Planner
Dick Power – Financial Planner

“Homes For Our Troops is fortunate to have Dick Power and his extensive network of financial planners offer their expertise to our Veterans,” says HFOT Executive Director Bill Ivey. “Having the opportunity to sit down with a professional financial planner enables them to establish a strong financial foundation as they rebuild their lives. These financial planners are a key aspect of HFOT’s commitment to staying in contact with our Veterans to assist them going forward.”

Here, Dick explains how he got involved with HFOT and the role financial planning plays in rebuilding Veterans’ lives.

How did you first hear about HFOT’s mission?

About 15 years ago, one of my professional friends Hal Estabrook from Bridgewater, was working out at a fitness facility in Massachusetts and got into a conversation with an HFOT employee. Hal is a former Marine and was a pro bono volunteer I worked with in our Massachusetts Financial Planning Association program to serve the military and Veterans. Hal developed an interest in the program, and asked what we could do. He and I met with the HFOT founder and some of the key staff, and discussed some of the issues Veterans in new homes were encountering.

What inspired you to get involved with HFOT’s mission?

Hal and I knew financial planning could be the answer to financial problems. It certainly fits with our role in pro bono work with the military community in Massachusetts. We also saw that it would align with the national Financial Planning Association (FPA) pro bono program that I was also actively connected with. Our idea was to create a relationship between HFOT and FPA wherein FPA would access its extensive network of pro bono planners to serve these Veterans who are spread all over the United States. FPA has about 85 chapters and is in almost every state. It seemed to be a perfect fit. And so, we worked with HFOT and national FPA to create a model and service arrangement that’s evolved but has been in place for over 10 years.

What is your role in helping HFOT Veterans achieve financial success?

My role is three-fold. First, I present the financial planning program to every Veteran group at the HFOT conferences. As a retired Army officer, I can relate to these young Veterans and their families and tend to “tell it like it is.” It seems to resonate. Second, I’m the lead proponent of this pro bono initiative in FPA. I push the FPA leadership to be sure they are connected and fulfilling our professional commitment. If there is a shortfall, HFOT staff knows they can bring me into the picture to ensure the appropriate focus. And finally, I usually act as one of the pro bono volunteers, often when HFOT is having trouble finding someone to take on a case.

Why is financial planning important, not only to homeowners, but also to a person in their 20, 30, 40, 50’s, etc.?

Failure to plan one’s financial life is one of the greatest and most common mistakes an individual or family can make. I often remind people they spend way more time planning a one-time vacation than they do planning for the rest of their financial lives. And yet everyone’s life is facilitated, for better or worse, by their financial well-being. So, it is important for the new homeowner, particularly if they have never owned a home before, as is the case with many young service families, to plan their spending. There are things they must do and things they’d like to do. And that means having a proper and realistic spending plan. They must pay for utilities, insurance, maintenance, and perhaps taxes on the home. Then they must put food on the table and pay for transportation, medical, clothing, and other needs. Once they have addressed those things, they must think about the future. College funding for children, insurances in case someone passes away prematurely, retirement income flows, etc. It is much easier to plan to do it right than to try to dig out from failing to plan.

What is your goal in working with HFOT Veterans?

I often tell audiences that everyone should have a financial mission. Because I’m a retired Colonel, I often give them that mission: “To provide for financial security for yourself and your family for the rest of their lives.”  That is precisely what we try to do with every Veteran and their family.  Just as we do for a paying client. Our work is pro bono (free of any charge) but totally following the same practice standards.

Learn more about how HFOT helps severely injured Veterans rebuild their lives at www.hfotusa.org/mission.